EBOLA: Nigeria’s Triumph in Collectivism

Hurrah! At last there is something to celebrate in Nigeria. We are Ebola free for now. It proves our varying but progressive ingenuity under a collective ideal. Some fellow exported Ebola to Nigeria and we stopped him at our border before he could diffuse it to unmanageable dimension, thanks to Ameyor Adadevoh, the heroine of the recently concluded war.

We should wish more grease to the elbows of the federal, Lagos and Rivers governments for rising to the cry to save Nigeria from the deadly scourge. There is no pointing to the leadership the Lagos State government offered in stemming Ebola before the federal centre added the needed muscle. We have been cleared by WHO. How one had wished the economic crisis facing Nigeria was being confronted with the same collective zeal!

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan decided to inherit the discredited, individualistic programme of Bretton Woods, which enriches a cabal and impoverishes the preponderant majority. It is a programme which talks of growth without a corresponding spread of welfare to the larger society. It does not create jobs. It is too mechanistic and so it has no soul. Any system that does not take man as the first resource is non-starter.

Have we been able to mobilise the people to fight the present economic war? No nation has ever attacked our types of problems without general mobilisation of the population as if it is at war. This really is a period of national emergency to face corruption, impunity and fading nationalism.

Coincidentally, General Yakubu Gowon, who turned 80 a few days ago, should have a lot to say about confronting a national emergency. Is it not remarkable that we fought a 30-month civil war without borrowing a kobo under his leadership when the things we depended on for foreign exchange were the crops from our farms?

And we planned beyond the war and it metamorphosed to the 3Rs of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction, a feat in the prosecution and settlement of human conflicts. George W. Bush (Jr) lacked that foresight when he invaded Iraq and claimed victory only to hand over the country to contractors as Nigeria is today presented.

Initially, all the west coast defence contractors rushed to Iraq for the spoils of war and savaged the pride of Mesopotamia only to be reminded with a bloody nose that there exist peoples that saw man’s first steps in civilisation at the banks of Tigris and Euphrates. And the Iraqi conflicts still smoulder in many versions until now because Bush rushed there at the head of a mob.

Bush, like his father of the same name, ran the United States of America according to the dictates of the supranational World Bank and the IMF as a classical neo-capitalist case study.

The reward in the two tenures was the collapse of the American economy. But George W. was humble to accept other options to ultra-capitalism when his country was on its fours because of the scorn on a crashing system. No nation can thrive healthily without communication and ideals.

George W.’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, a leftist American, proved the points of effective communication and ideals tied to targets while he was president of the same country when he mobilised Americans for national recovery. It was like waging, really, an economic war. His was unqualified success. And he was humble though he had the brightest and the best of men in his team.

Ours is the opposite. We have Jonathan, an accident on the political scene, loaning a de facto prime minister from Bretton Woods to crusade ultra-capitalism. “Government must do nothing but collect rents from crude oil. Leave everything to the private sector.” And she was so haughty to have overplayed her importance at the National Assembly. Let us deflate this balloon of fake claims that efficiency rests only in the private sector.

We had thriving textile, motor assembly, tyre manufacturing, carpet, and many other fabricating industries before the World Bank and the IMF visited Nigeria in 1986. Though there was stagnation, Nigeria did not sink. These concerns were almost wholly private with token public participatory interests. Why did they collapse? And many of them were multi-national corporations operating also in some other countries without the stress encountered in Nigeria.

Volkswagen was operating in Brazil and Mexico before it came to Nigeria. Volkswagen of Nigeria had only 15 per cent federal and 10 per cent Lagos State shares. So it was almost wholly private. Why did it fail here when SAP, backed by the World Bank, arrived? It was the same case here with Peugeot Automobile and the other motor assemblers. Dunlop and Michelin made tyres in Nigeria for 25 years before the IMF forced its capitalist policies on Nigeria. They were almost wholly private concerns. Why did they stop tyre manufacturing under the continuing World Bank regime chaired by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the major-domo of its interest? We had Ribway, Remo, and many other carpet industries. Does the African Timber and Plywood Company still exist? Let us leave out the agricultural sector which Olu Falae, another apostle of Bretton Woods, ruined by his scrapping of the marketing boards and the virtual destruction of co-operative unions. All these marked how employment dried up in Nigeria and the enthronement of individualism and the erosion collectivism. Olusegun Obasanjo even bought imperial preference syndrome when he celebrated his deal with America to exchange raw or semi-value added produce.

The problem with those who lead here is that there is nothing for them to communicate but the new-fangled religion from Bretton Woods. The same IMF and World Bank told Mauritania to stop subsistence farming and concentrate on fishing with consequent famine as the reward. Beautiful plan; sell fish and import food.

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